Thursday, August 31, 2006


The cats have taken to dragging in various critters to "play" with. Usually its a cockroach or moth.

Or in this case, I think it was a cricket that Shadow is playing with in his cube.

At some point, though, yesterday or overnight, one of the cats brought in something considerably larger:

And it died under the sofa. Ewwww! I had noticed something smelled a bit in the living room earlier in the day, but it wasn't too noticable from the computer. When I sat down on the sofa to go over the kids homework - Yuck. I had M get a flashlight and look under the sofa. He didn't see much, but there was definitely a stench. So I opened up the hide-a-bed and took a look and that is what I found. Ewwww again. It was partially under the bed part and the only way to really see it was with the bed at about a 45 degree angle. So, how to remove it? I finally put on a rubber glove, then put a plastic bag over my gloved hand and picked it up. I quickly pulled the bag over the mouse and stuck it all in the trash and had A take the trash bag directly to the garbage can outside.

I wish the cats would play with their little friends OUTSIDE. I had a talk with both of them about it, but I doubt it will do any good.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Progress Report time

already! It's hard to believe that the kids have been back at school for 4.5 weeks. But they have and I had to sign progress reports today. A still doesn't get actual grades, so he had a page full of "S"s. Kind of hard to get all excited about "S", but he had a nice comment from the teacher that she "enjoys his problem solving skills". Evidently earlier in the week they were working on doubles, 8+8=16, and A commented that you could just do "8x2=16" They aren't supposed to cover multiplication until at least the end of 2nd grade or possibly 3rd grade.

M got real grades on his progress report, all "A"s, ranging from 93 to 98. He was very pleased with his grades, as was I. Not surprisingly his math grade was on the high end at a 97. M tends to think of himself as better at reading, but he's quite good at math thinking skills also.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Scouts start up again

Cub Scouts have started back up again for the year. I'm the Wolf den leader this year (A is a Wolf) and D is the Webelos II den leader (with M being a Webelos II). So, we're all busy scouting.

All 6 of my Scouts from last year have said that they are coming back again this year - though one is playing football a lot on Scout nights, so he'll be MIA for a couple of months. I guess I understand missing Scouts if you are having a game, but I find it frustrating when parents seem to always pick sports over Scouts if there is a conflict. One kid last year had baseball practice 3 nights a week, but seemingly couldn't miss one even every other week to come to Scouts. Then the parents wonder why their kid isn't getting as many awards as the other kids - umm, you have to BE there to do the stuff - or you need to get in touch with me so you can find out what you're missing.

So, anyway, I should have the 6 boys from last year, plus I had 7 new boys show up. Good crowd. It will be interesting to see how many of the new kids stick it out. From previous experience it seems that about half the kids who sign up end up dropping out within the first month or two. If half the new ones stick, though, I will end up with about 10 kids - a good number.

One kid I'm worried about:

the one on the far left - he kept putting his head down and drifting off. I'm hoping its a one time thing and not going to be a habit. He does already have a uniform - that's a positive. Our next meeting will be a bit more physical. I'm hoping it doesn't rain so we can go outside and do some crab walks and somersaults and such.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Square Dance

We had a square dance at church tonight - its an annual occurance that we rather enjoy. D and I are just good enough that the "regulars" want us to come take lessons, but we're clearly not in their league currently. I guess we follow directions well. We actually met one couple tonight who might occupy our same decade of life (most of the regulars are at least mid 50's if not 60's or more). I don't think joining them is going to happen though - too much going on and nothing for the kids to do while we're learning.

I took my camera, but the batteries died as soon as I tried to get any pictures, so you'll just have to mentally picture the square dances, the Virgina Reel, the cake walk, etc. D (standing in for A who didn't want to miss his movie) won a cake. We're not quite sure what kind it is, but it appears to have strawberry icing perhaps. We'll find out tomorrow when we try the cake.

I made a chocolate pudding pie for the cake walk, but it wasn't very popular - maybe because not enough kids were doing the cake walk. It got picked last - even after the store bought cake. My kids thought it looked quite delicious and are pestering me to make another. I didn't have a second crust, but I did make chocolate pudding for them and pour it over an Oreo for an approximation of pudding pie. M declared it quite yummy.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday evening fun

School's been in session here for 4 weeks, so its time for things like football to start up. It wasn't a "real" game, just a scrimmage, but football it was - in August, no less. Hot, humid, muggy - and as D said, still too light out for it to feel like football weather. The magnet school had a free BBQ beforehand which was quite nice, esp the BBQ chicken. We visited with various people as well. M ran into his friend R and the 2 of them plus A and R's little brother S (and some other little boy) all had great fun rolling down the hill. Rolling into each other, over each other, etc. Here they are getting ready to roll down the hill.

A is rolling and M is heading back up the hill to go down again.

M rolling, about to be run over S at the bottom of the hill.

I didn't manage to get any shots of them all in a heap, but it was pretty funny - and they were having a great time.

Then they ended up playing Marco Polo in the parking lot - obviously with a fair amount of "peeking" going on - there was way too much running in the parking lot for Marco to be "blind". D and I talked to R's parents and never did end up going to the game. D stopped by briefly on the way to his car, but it was half-time (but no band). Our team was winning.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pounce finally uses the cat door!

Yeah! She is finally going through the cat door on her own. Of course, it took calling the company and getting instructions on how to remove the magnets so the door opens more easily. She's still not wild about using the door, but she WILL do it now. I figure we'll leave all the magnets off for at least a week, then slowly start adding them back one at a time (there are 4).

I've tried, but I haven't managed to get a picture of Pounce actually using the cat door. Here she is sitting outside, contemplating coming in. (It's a little hard to see her, but you can definitely see the eyes).

And here she has just come through, all I got in the picture was about half her tail.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Battling the pantry moths

I've been busy the last few days doing battle with the pantry moths. I have tried, unsuccessfully, several times over the last year or so to get rid of them, but they keep coming back. So I brought out the heavy guns this time - bug bombs. Here is the kitchen getting ready:

It's hard trying to get everything shrouded and put away. After setting off the bug bombs, then the real work starts, though - cleaning out the pantry. I'm determined to take EVERYTHING out of the pantry. I've found the moths or their cocoons in the oddest places - on a paper bag, inside an empty cookie tin, etc. Unfortunately I've seen at least 3 live moths since I bombed yesterday - I killed 2 of them, but I'm worried. I opened up a sealed box of Bisquick and found bugs/moths inside the sealed packets inside. Yuck. I guess I'm going to open anything that I can and everything else I will seal up in a box and try to use them up quickly. I guess I need to make a list of what has been in the pantry to use up soon - seems that I'll be making some angel food cake and chocolate pudding, as I have multiple boxes of both.

So far I've managed to wipe down all the shelves in the pantry, but I still have to clear the floor - and then I have 3 Rubbermaid totes full of food to replace. I put all the cans, jars, etc that I figure the moths can't get in, into totes, plus all my bulk spices. I will be checking everything VERY carefully before replacing in the pantry!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Recent church-related activities

We've been busy the last few nights with church activities. Friday was our monthly games night. We usually play dominoes - and sure enough we did this month. The kids play somewhat slowly, but really do quite well. For at least half the game M was at least in 2nd place. That's where he ended up also, beating all the rest of the family - and believe me, NO ONE was helping him. Both kids get very irate when someone feels they need "help". A didn't do quite so well this time, but he still beat 3 adults (out of 8 total people).

Here's A, my mom and M waiting their turns.

A is hiding from the camera here.

Then Sat afternoon/evening we had a pool party for the kids choir at church. M sang last year and will again this year. Lest you think that he is enamored of singing, in his mind it's the lesser of the evils. We told him he needed to participate at church in some way and his choices were:

1. children's choir
2. acolyte
3. donate money on a regular basis

He chose choir last year and has again this year. A is going to try the choir this year. He was quite interested at Easter last year when he saw the chocolate bunny that all the choir members got. Now, he is less so, but we've decided he will try it for at least a month. Next year, in 3rd grade, he will have to choose a way to contribute.

Anyway the pool party was lots of fun. The kids were in the pool almost constantly from 5 til 9, taking out only enough time to wolf down their pizza.

A and a friend playing.

M attacking dad.

A bunch of kids attacking another dad

The other dad has caught a frog. He threatened to put it down one girl's suit - oh my, the shrieking!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A New Car

but not for us, for my mom. She sold her old car before she went to Russia and she needed a new one - something that would hold the kids better than her truck. So she did some looking and researching online and test-driving. Then she needed some help in getting the car. I went with her on Thur to talk to the dealer - not much dickering to do, what with internet research. He matched her low bid, then had to find the car she wanted - WHITE. (a Honda Civic LX, if you were interested) They found it Thur afternoon, so we went back up on Friday morning to pick it up. Here's the car.

And here's my mom checking out everything under the hood.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

M's science project

M has a science project due by Friday, a model of an animal cell. We discussed various different types of materials and he eventually decided on jello.

Then of course, we had to figure out what to use to denote the various parts of the cell. We had some interesting moments with this. We put in jawbreakers for the vacuoles, but they sank into the jello. Oops, guess we didn't let the jello set up enough. We now have 2 vacuoles on the bottom (but they left a film of yellow on the surface) and one on the surface. We tried to draw the chromosomes with cake decorating gel, but it didn't show up, so we pulled out the box o' decorations and found chocolate sprinkles to be a good substitute. The raisins are the mitochrondria and the nucleus is canteloupe (much to M's chagrin - he doesn't like it).

It all looks good for now - let's just hope it looks as good in the morning. I promised M I would take it to school for him, as I'm sure it would be in worse shape if he tried to take it on the bus. His teacher said she would keep it in the fridge til M and cohorts get back from Challenge in the afternoon. They can have it as an afternoon snack.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

School Night for Scouting

This morning M complained that his glasses were about to fall off if he looked down. So then he proceeded to walk around looking down. Umm, don't do that if you're worried.

When I looked at our calendar for today, I realized something would have to give, namely dinner at home. We needed to be at a school Scout recruiting night by 6:15. That would have meant dinner at 5:15 or earlier. Combine that with M's glasses complaints and the fact that tonight was our school's "Spirit Night" at Chick-fil-A (school gets a portion of the proceeds), it seemed obvious what would happen.

Our schedule ended up thusly:

4:20 leave home
4:40 arrive at eye dr's, get glasses adjusted (& run into M's 1st grade teacher)
4:50 arrive at library for a quick visit (passing D on the road, headed to dinner)
5:05 leave library with about 20 books, 15 of them mythology books for M
5:15 meet D at Chick-fil-A as planned, saying Hi to many people from school
6:00 hustle A to finish his ice cream (traded for his kid's meal toy)
6:15 arrive at the school and change kids into Scout uniforms in parking lot (their choice, I offered the bathroom)
6:30 informational meeting and signing up kids
7:30 leave for home

For some reason there weren't nearly as many kids/families at the recruiting night this year. I've heard that perhaps they didn't send home fliers today, but instead sometime last week. Anyway, this year we signed up about 10 new Scouts. Last year we signed up 10 Tigers, about 30 Scouts total. I think I picked up 3 new Wolves for my den. I had 6 from last year that all said they were coming back, so that should give me 9 - a good number, I think. As for Tigers (1st grade), its a good thing that we have 3 younger brothers of Tiger age already or we would have a very small den. I think they only signed up 2 or 3 Tigers tonight.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Permanent Cat Door

Our new cat door came a week or so ago, but we wanted to wait until the house was finished being stained to install it. Plus, we knew there would be some more training involved. Yesterday afternoon, we got it all out and puzzled through the directions and installed it.

The cars were very curious about it. Sniff, sniff... it smells strange, they seemed to be saying. We demonstrated how to work it. First Pounce just looked at it:

Then she noticed that D was holding treats in his hand outside and came at the door from a different direction, checking it out further.

She eventually went through, with us holding the doors out of the way.

Both cats were very curious, sniffing and poking at it. At first P seemed more willing to go through, willing to have the weight of the door on her back, while Shadow wanted nothing to do with any weight on him. But then, this morning, S came through the door all by himself. Yeah S! Miss P seems to think that it should be like a regular door - she appears, we notice her and we hold the door open for her. Hmmm. We may have to try leaving her outside when we're gone for the day or leaving her out at night to see if she will come in by herself. It certainly won't hurt her if she doesn't come in - she's stayed out all day or all night before we got a cat door, but maybe she will figure it out on her own.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


I found a link to Oceangram at a friend's website. It's really cool, a virtual "message in a bottle". I sent a message to M and a random one out into the ocean. I received a message too. Cool to play around with.

Busy day for M

M's been a busy boy today. He had a pool party with the youth group from church - went great. I didn't get lost getting there, we carpooled with another boy so I only had to drive one way, it only threatened rain during the party, they fed him lunch.

Then after an hour or so at home, he was off to spend the night with a friend. I told M several times in the last few days that he needs to actually sleep this time. Last time he spent the night with E he had a problem with sleep. He claimed then not to have slept, now he claims he did, but obviously not enough. He'd better not be a zombie tomorrow or we'll have to rethink sleepovers at E's house.

While M is away, we had a non M-friendly dinner. It was going to be an Indian dal dish, but it turns out that it took too long to cook, so D says he'll fix it another time. Instead we had loaded baked potatoes. Quite tasty and easy. A thought they were good too. Oh, and corn on the cob, which M would have liked. I cooked one extra which I plan on splitting between M and A another night. Maybe M can eat it a bit better now that he has gotten the braces off his top teeth. I've been trying to get a picture of the teeth sans braces, but no luck so far...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Curriculum Nights

We've been to both kids curriculum nights at school this week. We learned a few things, sat through the new discipline plan meeting twice, D got to meet the teachers (I met them at Open House with the kids).

M's teacher has some really cool technology in her room. A smart board and some nifty little remote answer devices. I can't remember what they are called and M says that they haven't used them yet. Each kid would get one and then answer a question A, B, C, D and the results would show up on the teacher's computer (or the smart board, if she wants, I think).

In between A's night on Tue and M's night on Thur, they have seemingly changed their policy on food brought in. Much to my disgust. Now they are saying that not only are homemade goodies not appropriate for serving to the whole class, but neither are store-bought items unless they are individually packaged. That means no bags of pretzels, no boxes of crackers, no store-bought cupcakes, no cut-up fruit. They claim that this is part of a "wellness policy", but I'm not sure how serving Little Debbie type snacks instead of homemade cupcakes will help "wellness". The policy has come down from county level, and they are evidently still trying to figure out if this means that the K and 1st grade classes who have daily snacks have to follow this. They are the ones who it will really hurt - both by expense and nutrition. I know when I sent in group snacks, I tried to go for snacks that were at least minimally healthy - graham crackers, goldfish, pretzels. I also did things like make mini muffins and bread sticks. Other than at Halloween, I haven't seen small snack size versions of most healthier snacks. Well, maybe some of those 100 calorie snacks they've come out with - I haven't bought any, so I don't know what's available. But it seems like buying those for a class of 20 would get expensive pretty quickly.

I had signed up in the kids classrooms as being willing to provide snacks for their end of the month reward celebrations (no, can't call them parties). But, now I think not. It offends me - excess packaging, less nutritious, fewer options, more expensive.

I wonder if this means that the Beta club won't be holding a bake sale this year also...

The school doesn't seem to be particularly pleased with the new policy (don't shoot the messenger was what M's teacher said), nor do the parents I've heard. I'm hoping that they will modify the policy if there are enough complaints - now to figure out how to complain effectively.

A's first shower

When we painted the bathroom (many months ago), I took down the shower curtain and had not put it back up since the boys were taking baths. Last night, however, I put it back up and suggested that M take a shower (we thought he wasn't getting all the shampoo out of his hair in a bath). A decided that he would like to try taking a shower too. Hey, go for it, we said. D and I weren't here last night (curriculm night for M), but my mom helped A with his shower and the washing of hair. Here he is in mid-shower.

Obviously enjoying it. Though it seems he is still getting used to water cascading over his face.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Finishing up work on house

We're finally getting the current phase of "work on the house" finished. The guys put up the hood yesterday.

Hooray! Now we can broil again (as if we wanted to in this heat!) Plus its really nice to have a light over the stove again, and I don't have to worry about stuff falling through the hole in the cabinet.

They also fixed the drainage which got cut when the new water line went in. Almost all the staining is finished too. All that is left is to stain one area that is caulked (carpenter bees did a real number on the fascia) and to touch up some areas where the stain didn't fully cover the caulk.

The porch got a second coat of stain which looks much better. One coat didn't quite cover the old darker color. The front porch used to be closer to the color the house is now, but we felt it would look better with a distinctly different color. I'm not so wild about the color by itself, but I think it looks good against the house.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Rice picnic

We had our annual Rice picnic - alumni get together, greet the new students, see your friends for current students yesterday afternoon. We were very lucky that the weather was a bit more tolerable than last week.

They provide the BBQ, drinks and paper/plastic ware. There's one price for kids under 12 and vegetarians and another for teens/adults. We decided that unless M's tastes change, when he becomes a teen he will count as a vegetarian. He is NOT interested in BBQ. I took him a sandwich so he would have something other than desserts to eat. Luckily there was also some fresh fruit which he enjoys - apples, strawberries, grapes.

They had a drawing for door prizes. There weren't enough tickets to go around, so after someone won, they would give their ticket to another person. Interesting. There were a bunch of door prizes. When M won, he picked an owl, modeled here by A:

We each ended up winning once, the rest of us picking Rice ballcaps. They still had youth caps left at the end, so M got one also.

Pretty nifty!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

On growing up

Both sleepovers were evidently successful last night. Report from A's friend's mom that they were both asleep by 11 and had a good time. M's friend fell asleep during their movie and M fell asleep shortly after - sometime between 11:30 - 11:45. Much better than when M was at this same friend's house and did not sleep AT ALL. They were up by 7 this morning, so I made sure the kids were in bed on time tonight.

On growing up:
Yesterday I stopped in at Goodwill looking for shorts for M (nothing at Target or Kohl's appealed to me). I didn't find any shorts, but I found a pair of size 12 jeans. When I went to buy them the cashier asked if they were kids or adult size. Still kids size, but it won't be that much longer. Sigh. Then today I took the kids to Target. I had M try on a pair of jeans there (am saving the receipt as I'm not sure about them, but they are on sale and tax-free currently. He may still need slims but Target only carries slim in sizes 8 and 10, not 12). M holds up the jeans and wants to know if they would be long enough for me. We check and decide definitely not - they would be more like capris on me, but its getting closer all the time.

Got A some new tennis shoes, size 13.5. We checked his foot on their little mat and A thought it looked like he should wear a 13, I thought a 1. He tried on the 13.5 and was happy with them. I checked and the fit seemed good. Done - in less than 5 minutes. So nice for it to be so easy. I tried on tennis shoes yesteday, but never found anything I liked that also fit. So now I will have to try again somewhere else. I HATE buying shoes. I'm hard to fit, having narrowish feet (though better now than before being pregnant).

Friday, August 04, 2006

The kids got their Challenge class assignments

We had open house for the Challenge program last night and the kids got their class assignments. They had to prioritize their choices back in May.

A got 5 of his 6 choices - the only one he didn't get was French, because the teacher who was going to teach French moved away. Instead he got Georgia on Your Mind - where they will learn GA history.

M only got 3 of his top 6 choices. This was surprising since usually he has gotten at least 5 of his 6 top choices. He is particularly sad about not getting the Chess class. He also did not get the Guilty/Not Guilty and the Time Warp class. Instead he got:

Design - where you design a house based upon a random family size and budget
Anatomy of Laughter - learn about different forms of humor - puns, jokes, limericks
Exploring Earth's Waters - learn about health of water ecosystem

M's not too sure about the water one - he doesn't remember reading about it and is fairly sure it was far down on his list. The others he thinks will be interesting and fun.

We got to meet the new teachers and visit some former teachers. M and A will have some of the same teachers and several of the teachers already knew A from his tagging along on previous visits with M.

I'm sure we will get to listen to many new bad jokes, puns, etc in the spring when M takes the humor class. M has a friend over for a sleepover tonight and they were trading jokes. They were a bit dismayed when we knew some of the jokes already. Some of the jokes are really OLD.

Q: What is the same size and shape as an elephant but weighs nothing?
A: An elephant's shadow

It's differently noisy around here tonight. M and his friend are here, but A isn't. A is off at a sleepover with his friend next door. So there is noise, but no fighting. I just hope that there will be sleep going on for ALL members of the family tonight.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Waiting for the bus

Well, it took til the 3rd day of school to get a picture of both kids at the bus stop, but here it is.
They were being rather silly.

Blogger is being difficult and taking forever to upload photos, so I finally went to bed last night, after Blogger was thinking about uploading pictures for more than 30 minutes. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Pictures from 1st day of School

I went down to meet the bus on the first day. A got off first, running (I think hoping to make the picture a blur). "What's it look like?", he asks. You'll have to ignore the camera strap in the corner - I'm not used to using M's camera.

Then M got off the bus, book in hand.

M was excited to be able to borrow this book from his teacher at Open House. It's one of about 4 he's reading currently. (I don't like to be reading multiple fiction books at once, but M says its not a problem, they are all very different stories.)